By Dave Andrusko
If it weren’t for Kermit Gosnell, Steven C. Brigham would likely be described as America’s most notorious abortionist. But with Gosnell serving three consecutive life sentences, Brigham, with decades of legal battles and botched abortions behind him, has reached the bottom of the heap by default.
The latest chapter in what promises to be a never-ending struggle, is that an elderly stroke-impaired physician authorities say Brigham has used as a front man agreed to sell seven New Jersey abortion clinics as part of a deal in which he gave up his medical license.
The name Vikram Kaji will be familiar to NRL News Today readers. In a January 25 competency ruling, New Jersey Administrative Law Judge Thomas R. Betancourt wrote that Kaji “cannot perform the duties of a fully functioning physician.” He added that he found Kaji “slow to answer and at times unsure” of his own medical history.”
Kaji’s agreement “with the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners, issued as a consent order Wednesday, also may enable regulators to remove the founder of the seven clinics, Steven C. Brigham, 62,” wrote Marie McCullough. “Brigham hired Kaji in the mid-1990s while the ob-gyn’s license was restricted in Pennsylvania and New Jersey for improprieties including having sex with a patient in his office and improperly prescribing controlled substances for her.”
McCullough, whose reporting on Brigham is second to none, continued
More than four years ago, the board ordered Brigham to divest his interests in the clinics when it took away his medical license — the last of six he once held — for illegally performing dangerous late-term abortions. Instead, Brigham transferred ownership for no money to medical director Kaji, who then hired Brigham to manage the clinics.
The state attorney general alleged the transfer was a sham designed to keep Brigham in control and profiting from the business.
Kaji’s agreement requires that he sell the clinics to a licensed physician within 60 days, then submit to the board “copies of the contract of sale and any management contract.”
Brigham’s “history of trouble with regulators, tax collectors, landlords, creditors, and criminal prosecutors in Maryland” is almost impossible to understand, on any number of grounds. It seems as if no matter what legal or medical bodies conclude, or how much he is fined, Brigham plows ahead. For example, according to McCullough,
He has testified that he is in financial straits. He owed almost $500,000 to the Internal Revenue Service for not paying employee taxes when he lost his New Jersey license. He has yet to pay any of the $561,000 in penalties and prosecution costs that the state imposed in connection with the revocation of his medical license.
That aside, what about his habit of unlicensed practice of medicine? Wouldn’t that have prevented perhaps his most egregious conduct—what McCullough describes as his “unlicensed practice of medicine at a late-term, cash-only abortion clinic that he secretly set up in Elkton, Md., that led to the revocation of his New Jersey license, the last of six that he lost, let lapse, or gave up.”
For those readers with long memories, that’s when Brigham would start abortions in New Jersey past the legal limit and then transport the women to Maryland where one almost died.
“But lack of licensure has not necessarily been a barrier to Brigham’s business because most states allow doctors to own medical practices even if they are not licensed,” McCullough explained. “In Pennsylvania, for example, Brigham relinquished his license in 1992, yet owned clinics until 2010, when his persistent flouting of health and safety laws led regulators to ban him. It took them two more years to actually shut him down because he transferred ownership to his mother in Ohio.”
Circling back to the 82-year-old Kaji and the clinics that are to be sold, given Brigham’s long, long history of fighting with regulators, they will doubtless have a dickens of a time forcing him to divest his interests in the clinics.
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